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Free Writing Tips

The Co-op is pleased to present free writing tips from Julie Bogart, the creator of the popular Brave Writer writing curriculum.

Questions to “get more words” out of your writers.

All writers benefit from learning how to ask themselves questions to generate more words. The interrogative process is the key experience that separates natural writers from struggling ones. Your inner writing partner wants to play! Ask the right questions and you’ll discover that you have all kinds of words to put on the page. As you read the list of questions below, think about ways to apply this style of personal interrogation to lots of writing projects, not just this one.

When writing about a historical person or character, try these questions (thanks to Dr. Peter Elbow for inspiring these questions):

1. If this person were the opposite sex, how might his or her life have been different than the one he or she lived?

2. If this person had lived 100 years later, how might life have been different for him or her? 100 years earlier? On another continent? With a different skin color?

3. Who sees this person as an ally? How?

4. Who sees this person as an enemy? Why?

5. Who is like this person in today’s society? Why? How?

6. What if this person had failed (in whatever endeavor)? How might our lives be different today, or would they?

7. Who would be the love interest for this person (make up the character or personality that would be perfect for this person)? Why did you select a person with those features?

8. What is a key childhood event in this person’s life? (Make one up if you don’t know any—think of the character qualities and where they might have come from: flaws and strengths.)

9. Give an accurate compliment that would speak to this person.

10. What would this person’s favorite school subject have been? Why?

11. Put this person in a fairy tale, or a science fiction story, or a soap opera.

12. Draw a picture (sketch) of how you imagine this person. Compare with photos or illustrations. Similarities? Differences? Are the depictions historically accurate?

13. What secrets might this person have kept?

14. If you were going to undermine this person, how would you do it? What is his or her biggest weakness or fear? Is it justified?

15. What does this person need to cry about? Laugh about?

This is how you do it. You ask questions that explore, that make you look around the edges and corners into the heart of the topic. Then you write.
on writing and language arts curriculum from Brave Writer -- by and for homeschoolers!
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